South Peace farms to benefit from new ag builds

·3 min read

The horizons in the South and Central Peace are changing.

An increase in agricultural infrastructure construction is helping to boost some producer spirits, says Grain Growers of Canada chair Andre Harpe.

Motorists and producers alike have watched an impressive Richardson Pioneer high-throughput elevator go up over the summer and into the fall just off Hwy. 43 at Huallen. Late last month, G3 announced it is building a similar elevator in Rycroft.

Then, Genesis Fertilizers recently signed a land lease agreement with Side Group Rail for a fertilizer distribution SuperCenter in Rycroft.

“I think the reason we're seeing (more development) is because the Peace country is a very untapped market,” said Harpe, who is also a Valhalla-area producer.

Producers will reap the benefits of having more companies coming to the Peace.

“The more competition we can get, the better it's going to be for the producer,” says Harpe.

Not only do the elevators want to buy grain, they are also looking to sell fertilizer, chemicals and pesticides. More companies will create competition in the area, explained Harpe.

The new Huallen facility is still on track for a November opening, says Richardson Pioneer spokesperson Kelcey Vossen.

The elevator will be capable of loading 150 rail cars using a loop track design and boasts 45,000 metric tonnes of storage.

It will bring new options to local farmers with seed sales, fertilizer and other crop protection technologies, says the company.

Richardson said it plans to add a high-speed fertilizer blender and a 10,000 square foot AWSA certified warehouse next year.

“South of Beaverlodge, they (producers) were travelling up to an hour away, just to deliver a load of grain, and now the possibilities are that time could be cut in half,” said Harpe.

“Historically, the region has been under-served,” concurs Vossen.

She said that Richardson recently also built an elevator in High Level and completed a redevelopment project on another old box elevator there, making it a high-throughput elevator.

The new elevators have more storage and are more efficient at loading and unloading grain, said Vossen.

“The loop track is a benefit usually for the rail line in terms of you don't need to disassemble cars it's very smooth and quick,” she said.

Harpe said that along with the benefits the elevators bring to producers, they will also create jobs for people in the area.

Vossen was not sure how many jobs the Huallen elevator created but said all the positions have been filled.

G3’s high-throughput elevator in Rycroft will have 42,000 tonnes of storage and a 150 rail car loop track similar to Richardson’s Huallen elevator. Construction is set to begin later this year says G3 in a media release, with completion in early 2023.

Meanwhile, after a rough year of drought, producers are facing further issues.

Harpe says nitrogen fertilizer has at least doubled in price since Sept. 1, and although the new plant in Rycroft may not provide relief for that, he said it may help with supply issues.

Genesis, who is building the Rycroft fertilizer plant, says that the facility will produce 700,000 metric tonnes (Mt) of urea annually, of which 525,000 will be available for purchase by farmers through an offtake agreement.

“This facility will serve as a major fertilizer distribution hub for Northern Alberta and Northeastern British Columbia,” says Jason Mann, Genesis CEO.

Jesse Boily, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Town & Country News

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